As our community grows, I want to start having some hard discussions. Asking ourselves some hard questions. Some of these I have been musing for some time, others are fresh. I am asking with you, not asking of you…
By the way, please feel free to submit events, news, recommendations, thoughts, etc. If they are in keeping with the spirit of Renovo, we will post them. Again, this is a community and collective. Its about us not me….though it may seem that way until we get larger.
To the Question!
As artists, we have to begin to ask ourselves some tough questions. It’s in these tough questions that we can start to refine our art and create art that is truly excellent. One of those tough questions for me recently has been, as Christians, are there certain art forms that are off limits? Are there art forms that are inherently and diametrically opposed to our Christian worldview?
As an example and point of discussion and thought, lets look at abstract art.
Abstract art was birthed out of the modern age. It is a statement that says there is no order, there is only chaos and entropy. It is the artistic embodiment of Nietzsche’s famous atheistic proclamation “God is dead. We have killed him and the stench of his corpse is over Europe.”
The abstract artist is one who embraces chaos and entropy, randomness and destruction. It was said of abstract painter Jackson Pollack “”what was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event. The big moment came when it was decided to paint ‘just to paint.’ The gesture on the canvas was a gesture of liberation from value — political, aesthetic, moral.”
Pollack abandoned his paint dripping style once it became the style he was known for, as if to say–I will not be bound to any form or order, even of my own creating.
So then the questions. Can we, as Christians, engage in this type of art? Can it be redeemed? Can we cause it to speak of the order and purpose that we believe in?
I am asking myself this, and as yet don’t have a firm answer. I like abstract art. So then, another question is, why do I like it? What in me is drawn to the chaos. I have an answer to that. I am drawn to the conflict of the artist. I am drawn to the fact that abstract art, in its abstraction actually proves that nothing can be totally random, total chaos. In the method, the practice, the thought…there is order.
I was recently in an art shop and had the chance to talk to the owner and chief artist. When asked about his preferred style, he said that abstract was his favorite because it portrayed entropy, the notion that everything is in decay.
What is interesting about that is that the very thing that the artist is communicating is at odds with their worldview. The law of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics states “the total entropy of any isolated thermodynamic system tends to increase over time, approaching a maximum value.”
It is this very law that contradicts the theory of evolution. Things cannot, by law, go from an unordered to an ordered state.
So then, the artist painting chaos and entropy is at odds with himself. The chaos on the canvas is not, contrary to the belief of the artist, external. The chaos is inside the artist; the chaos and conflict between the spirit crying for God and the soul wanting to remain in control.
So where do we stand? Are we thinking yet?